Users are pushing for greater physical mobility with their network and Internet access. Mobile ad hoc networks (MANET) can provide an efficient mobile network architecture, but security is a key concern. A figure summarizes differences in the state of network security for MANET and fixed networks. MANETs require the ability to distinguish trusted peers, and tolerate the ingress/egress of nodes on an unscheduled basis. Because the networks by their very nature are mobile and self-organizing, use of a Public Key Infra structure (PKI), X.509 certificates, RSA, and nonce ex changes becomes problematic if the ideal of MANET is to be achieved. Molecular biology models such as DNA evolution can provide a basis for a proprietary security architecture that achieves high degrees of diffusion and confusion, and resistance to cryptanalysis. A proprietary encryption mechanism was developed that uses the principles of DNA replication and steganography (hidden word cryptography) for confidentiality and authentication. The foundation of the approach includes organization of coded words and messages using base pairs organized into genes, an expandable genome consisting of DNA-based chromosome keys, and a DNA-based message encoding, replication, and evolution and fitness. In evolutionary computing, a fitness algorithm determines whether candidate solutions, in this case encrypted messages, are sufficiently encrypted to be transmitted. The technology provides a mechanism for confidential electronic traffic over a MANET without a PKI for authenticating users.